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Years ago, I remember someone saying to me, “I just can’t be friends with people unless they live close to me.” I didn’t really understand their sentiments, as the first time I moved a substantial distance from home was shortly after graduating from college. And now, 20 years later having grown up in the Midwest, lived on both coasts, spent several years in Music City, went to Australia and am now back on this side of the planet, I can safely say that I still don’t understand. Or at least…to a certain degree.

What I have come to realize, after two decades and multiple moves, is that there will always be people who withstand the distance and others who, with time, become memories of a season or chapter.

A reason. A season. Or, a lifetime.

Some people come into your life to teach you a lesson or force you to examine something that you had been unwilling to see without their prompting. Others are with you for a short time during a particular stage of life, but as that season changes, so does the relationship. And then there are those who are with you, always, despite proximity or major life changes.

My best friend from college likes to tease me, “I need an address book just for you!” From the first time we walked into our ‘Introduction to Media’ course 24 years ago, to every season and chapter of life since – weddings, the birth of our children, milestones, difficult moments – we have been with one another through everything.

Distance never mattered.

As seasons have changed in my own life, I find that I value the friendships that have traveled with me even more.

I was talking with another friend this week about this exact thing. From the day I left America to the day I got back, she was there every step of the way. Waving goodbye as I boarded that one-way flight, to returning home 2 years later, brokenhearted and with my babies in tow.

We made time every single week to check in, even from halfway around the world. Despite the distance, we didn’t miss a beat in each other’s lives.

And now that we are once again dwelling on the same side of the planet, just down the street from one another, we picked up right where we left off.

Sometimes it’s the people you don’t expect that show up in a new season, making you appreciate the constant evolution that is life, the human spirit, relationships. Sometimes its picking up exactly where you left off with others.

But, not everyone from each chapter of life may make it to the next, so while they are here in whichever chapter they happened to show up in, embrace it.

As I’m once again underneath boxes, digging out from this move, I’ve been thinking a lot about the different seasons in my own life – friends that have come and gone, and those that have stayed the course from chapter to chapter.

I wondered, if your life always remains the same, are your friendships weighted in true connection or is it simple proximity? I read an article recently about this very thing – the struggle that a lot of expats face when returning home and realize the dynamic of certain relationships have changed. Those changes are hard, especially when you weren’t necessarily prepared for them. But instead of getting frustrated, they looked at coming home as an opportunity to identify the friendships that remained intact and could withstand tests like distance and time.

Months ago, during a girl’s night out, at our table alone we collectively represented Australia, Switzerland, Wales, France, Greece, America, Ireland, New Zealand, and England – jokingly calling ourselves The United Nations. But what struck me as we reminisced about where we all came from, was that at some point or another, we had all gone through the same thing – being the new kid and redefining what life looked like. It was the common thread that connected each of us. We were all making life work, friendships included, thousands of miles away from each of our respective homes.

It reminded me of how much we stand to learn, when we open our lives and hearts to others.  We learn to value the experiences of others, whether those experiences are similar to ours or different.

Moving abroad made the world a much smaller place for my children and I, teaching us that no matter where people come from, we really aren’t all that different. We are all just doing the best we can to make the most of our limited time here on earth.

We all come from different walks of life, religious backgrounds, and cultures with different ideals and ideas. Whether someone ends up being in your life for just a season or they happen to be one of those special friendships that are with you for the long run, why limit yourself to what is simply comfortable or familiar?

Everyone we meet has an opportunity to impact our perspective, to help change our thoughts, and shape our idea of the world.

Whether it is your best friend from college, your best friend from midlife, or someone that has quietly been in your life for years – especially when life looks messy – pay attention to the people who are showing up to help you dust off. Identifying those who will remain for alifetime doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes those who are only with us for a reason or a season have also had a meaningful impact on our lives.

When you  allow yourself to reshape your thoughts, you realize you can appreciate everyone who comes into your life, whether it is for a fleeting moment or forever. Appreciating them at exactly the time they were in your life, for the reason or season, and cherishing those who remain for a lifetime.

Cheers to a new week and living life with open arms, ready to embrace new experiences and the people who show up in your life along the way.

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